Case Study

20 Term Incumbent Ousted

Despite 41 point deficit in initial polling, Gauthier defeats Blackwell by 12 points


Taking on entrenched Philadelphia Councilmember Jannie Blackwell, whose family had represented West Philly since 1974. Nine weeks before election day, polling indicated that Jannie Blackwell led upstart challenger Jamie Gauthier 68% to 24%. 


Working with Philadelphia 3.0 and its strategic team we devised a campaign strategy with three main goals: 

  1. Increase Gauthier’s name ID
  2. Soften Blackwell’s support
  3. Increase turnout among Gauthier’s base, who historically made up a tiny portion of the electorate.

Our strategy relied on dividing the district into three parts. Gauthier’s main base of support was in the eastern part of the district, and Blackwell’s was in the west. Three central wards formed a large persuasion zone. 

Deploying over 2,000 canvass shifts and making over eight passes through a universe of targeted doors, the campaign’s theme centered on calling Blackwell on her too-long tenure and highlighting instances of abusing power in her own interest while offering a qualified alternative. Using a constant feedback loop from the field campaign, we added communications that hit voters closer to home – namely the prevalence of potholes and trash in neighborhoods and neglect of the city in dealing with them. Field activities were layered by robust digital and mail communications.


  1. Surprise landslide victory. On May 21st, Jamie Gauthier won by 12 points — an unprecedented showing for a challenger in a city where council members are the longest serving of any city in the country. 
  2. Erased 40-point deficit. Gauthier’s final 56% win represented a huge jump from her initial 24% polling number.
  3. Generated 148% of 2015’s previous high turnout. In the hotly contested mayoral election of 2015, district turnout was 15,833. Despite a sleepy mayoral election, we were able to increase turnout by 48% in 2019 – to 23,662.